So much for shaking off the rust.
Texans DLE J.J. Watt, after missing most of training camp and the entire preseason, began the 2012 campaign in similarly dominant fashion to his ’11 postseason.
In the Texans’ Week One victory over the Dolphins, Watt collected 1.5 sacks and three passes defensed — two resulting in Texans interceptions — while providing several "Welcome to the NFL" moments for Dolphins rookie ORT Jonathan Martin and QB Ryan Tannehill.
We hear the 6-5, 295-pound Watt, who ran a 4.8 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine last year, appeared even lighter on his feet to begin his second season.
In his last six games (including the postseason), Watt now has an incredible six sacks, seven swatted passes and one game-changing pick-six under his belt.
It’s no wonder defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said in the offseason that Watt is destined for Canton.
Though it is always somewhat of a surprise when a player makes this large an impact this early in his career, we hear it really shouldn’t be for Watt, who, in addition to being blessed with elite size and athleticism, has one of the game’s better motors and work ethics.
Watt is such a rare talent that it's difficult to find a good comparison elsewhere around the league. Former Steelers DE Aaron Smith for years was the gold standard for a run-stuffing 3-4 defensive end, but Watt has a much greater collection of tools and is already further along than Smith was at this point in his career.
As he continues getting more recognition around the league, Watt will see extra attention and different tactics from blockers in order to slow him down. For instance, Watt’s knack for getting his hands on passes when he can’t get in the backfield — his terrific hand-eye coordination can partially be traced back to the beginning of his collegiate days at Central Michigan playing tight end — likely will mean teams will do everything in their power to keep his hands down, including hitting him low and bringing extra blockers.
But that will continue creating opportunities for the rest of the Texans' defenders to make plays, much like Watt has been doing since he first burst onto the scene last season.